I’ve written about this before, but parenting is changing more and more around here. Possibly just in my head though. One of the offspring moved out of his teens last weekend and milestones like that make you stop and reflect a bit.
It is an odd time of letting go at this stage of parenting, which I am very happy to do. The weekend was great fun: he came home and we had all the usual family celebrations of decorating the house with banners, a takeaway meal, opening presents together and a family lunch and board games. Nothing flashy, just the usual traditions.
And then he went back to his own home. We took down all the birthday decorations on his actual birthday, when traditionally they have stayed up for about a week. It did feel a bit strange, but to be honest, it felt fine, just unusual. I had a moment concerned that we were just eliminating him from our weekend as soon as he had left. Only a moment though.
I am proud and thrilled that he wanted to come and celebrate with us at all and that he wanted all the traditions which we have created over the years. I am equally thrilled that he then wanted to go home and take his birthday with him, because it was his celebration, not mine. It is an odd time of loving two opposites, him being here and him being away, putting up the decorations and taking them down again. I’m curious to know how this parenting thing continues to develop.
One of my goals for this year was to be slower in life, to do things with more intention and more deliberately. A surprising manifestation of this has been in shopping. I am not a lover of shopping, I found it stressful – there is too much choice, too much expectation to be buying things to make life better. That never sat comfortably with me.
Somehow this year, I am enjoying shopping. I have not yet managed to totally overcome the impulse to just buy things mindlessly and then feeling guilty afterwards, but a few things have definitely helped.
A decision to be more ethical in my purchasing, specifically about environmental impact of what I buy has been a transformation in my mindset. The fashion industry is one of the major environmental culprits, guilty of mass-producing clothing in appalling working conditions, using and damaging a wealth of natural resources and all with the intention of forcing a complete change of wardrobe every month or so. It seems that a seasonal wardrobe is no longer enough, we now have transition wardrobes, party wardrobes, holiday wardrobes. I struggled hugely and refused to buy anything for ages and then overbought on impulse. I have found a form of clothes shopping I love – charity shops. Not just any charity shop, but a specific few close to home, which I visit in a specific ritual involving hanging out with a teenage son, him browsing for vinyl and DVDs and us both having a fortifying coffee before we even contemplate shopping. So, a new wardrobe and a shared hobby with a teen. Great result.
It is rather odd to realise that I look forward to clothes shopping, but I do. I changed work hours this year and changed them to make sure I could still go shopping. Ok, the coffee and hanging out with the teen are crucial parts, but still, there is also weekly shopping involved.
And it turns out that I have so much to say about shopping that this is going to be a two-part blog post – which is astounding me. Part two tomorrow.
This blog turns out to be a good example of doing something productive in the mornings. I was not aware it was until this morning’s non-exemplary lack of productivity. Or in plain English – I am having a Monday morning. I seriously cannot be bothered this morning. The weather was tough this weekend, I am tired, it feels like light years to the next holiday and the daylight hours are getting uncomfortably short.
All this will pass I am sure, but I decided to forego even attempting a blog and just try and sort out in my head where I am and what I am doing this week. So, I was sitting with coffee, bullet journal and laptop. The latter to check diary in fact.
The teen wandered in and asked, with genuine interest “so, what are you writing about today”. Genuine interest. On a Monday morning. From a teenager. About seomthing his mother is doing.
That, my friends is known as motivation. I did explain – in a VERY non-exemplary manner – that I wasn’t going to write, because frankly I just need to get my **** together.
Actually, it takes ten minutes to have a think about what needs to be done in the next couple of days, it turns out there are plenty of meetings in the diary to keep me on track. So, here we are, a blog.
It’s another one about blogging, I really do need to organise a plan in this. Yet more **** to get together. I am hoping for some enforced downtime later this week, so I may just get around to planning themes or at least have more idea than waking on a dark wet October morning and thinking that I just cannot be bothered.
One of the most fascinating aspects of parenthood is seeing the loves and passions that your offspring develop. In my very limited experience of only two offspring, they’re not the things that energise me. And of course, they change all the time, at a sometimes alarming rate.
Sadly academic study has not always been one of those passions which fire up the offspring here. I say sadly only because they spend a fair amount of the year in academic study. But some of that study does interest them, and I try and get them to see that in amongst the general complaints about having to attend school. I guess many of us do jobs which don’t make us passionate.
One of the tricks of life for us all at any age is to indulge in the stuff that makes us feel awake and energetic. Sometimes that can be the video games or the latest box set – however much I try and deny that in my parenting, there are phases when the newness of a game and the fact that all your friends are discussing it, is genuinely exciting.
That said, the inspiration for this blog is much more active. One of the offspring gets hugely energised by skiing and we indulged that yesterday as a last-day-of-holidays treat. The burst of energy he gets from the sport has definitely got him through the last day blues and even out of bed a couple of hours earlier than has been usual over the last couple of months.
It’s one of the most delightful things to see as a parent too – offspring totally focussed and refreshed and enthusiastic. If only this particular passion were not quite so expensive. And slightly more convenient in terms of geographic location. This could be yet another reason to consider that migration to Canada.
It’s one of those days where my parenting skills are challenged. Both the offspring are off on adventures, both have done all the prep for these adventures themselves. Bags are packed, travel plans are made and everyone is being independent. This is good. Both my offspring are teenagers, one is an adult legally. Them learning how to prepare and then leave me to go on adventures is the sign that the parenting has gone well so far.
The challenge is that I am finding it quite hard to not be involved. I have not been able to resist checking on water and suncream, my excuse is that it is unusually hot, but I have stopped myself from checking anything else. One is off to London. We live in the second city, so he has some knowledge of how to get around a city and a few tube rides in the wrong direction hurt no one.
The other offspring is off on his Duke of Edinburgh Bronze expedition. Again, apart from the obvious safety point of making sure he has liquid and sun protection in what promises to be two hot sunny days, he has packed and organised all his own stuff. As he should – the point of the award is independence, organisation and planning.
All of this sense is my head though, my heart is struggling. It is what it is, a phase of pushing them on to discover themselves. All the while feeling out of sorts as it is the opposite of what the instincts tell me to do. But I know in my heart that stopping them from making mistakes will only do them huge damage later. This is their life, I have the honour of watching them unfold, but not living them for them. Here’s to independence.